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Peace, prosperity and renewal: MBA students talk Lunar New Year and the Year of the Rabbit

By William Horton-Anderson
Thursday, January 26, 2023

Lunar New Year, as the name suggests, is the beginning of the year in a calendar based on cycles of the moon. In East Asian cultures and countries, it is the most celebrated and important holiday of the year. It is a time for people to gather with their families and loved ones to honor togetherness and enjoy newfound or renewed prosperity.

In this Q&A, Full-Time MBA students share their experiences with Lunar New Year and how the business community can be more inclusive of Asian cultures and backgrounds.

Abigaile Wu (she/her/hers)

Abigaile Wu headshot

Abigaile Wu (MBA Supply Chain Management & Human Resources and Strategic Management ’23)

Hometown/Country: Taiwan

Summer Internship: GEP Consulting

Broad News: Can you explain what Lunar New Year is and what it means to you and your family?

Wu: Many Asian cultures celebrate Lunar New Year, including Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean communities. Traditionally, it is a time for families to come together and celebrate with food, gifts and activities.

The significance of Lunar New Year for me is that it is an important tradition, and many people use it to spend time with loved ones and reflect on the past year. In this year’s holiday, peace and prosperity are central themes, and many people wish for good luck and success in the year to come.

Broad News: This new year will be the Year of the Rabbit, meaning peace and prosperity. Can you talk about a time where these themes helped you in your personal or professional life?

Wu: I believe that peace and prosperity are essential elements that can greatly improve one’s life. In my professional life, peace and prosperity lead to a more productive and efficient work environment, and in my personal life, they provide stability, happiness and overall well-being. One instance where these themes have helped me was when I received a promotion at work, bringing a sense of financial stability and prosperity to my personal life.

Broad News: How can the business community be more inclusive of anyone with an Asian background?

Wu: It is important for companies to be aware of and respect the cultural traditions and customs of their Asian employees and customers. A few examples include providing employees with time off during important holidays such as Lunar New Year, providing culturally appropriate food options in the workplace and providing sensitivity training to educate employees about Asian cultures. Furthermore, companies should strive to create an environment that is diverse and inclusive, in which all employees feel valued and respected.

Zach Weng (he/him/his)

Zach Weng headshot

Zach Weng (MBA Supply Chain Management & Business Analytics ’23)

Hometown/Country: China

Broad News: Can you explain what Lunar New Year is and what it means to you and your family?

Weng: Lunar New Year originates from a tale in East Asian culture which says that people celebrate from the last day of the last lunar year to the first day of a new lunar year. We use fireworks to drive away a monster called Nian (年), who will always show up in the evening on the last day of a lunar year.

Nowadays, Lunar New Year is a festival for East Asian people to gather with family, to praise ourselves for working hard throughout the whole year and to wish for a good new year. It is the same to me and my family.

Broad News: Can you talk about a time where the peace and prosperity themes helped you in your personal or professional life?

Weng: In East Asian culture, it is important for people who are born in the year of each of the 12 animals. This year, we will give special wishes to friends who are born in the Year of the Rabbit; they generally will be 12 years old, 24 years old or 36 years old.

In a professional sense, it is a surprise if you can remember that your customers or your bosses are born in the Year of Rabbit. Sending them a blessing message or giving them special gifts related to the rabbit will make them very happy.

Broad News: How can the business community be more inclusive of anyone with an Asian background?

Weng: Considering that we want to gather with our families, I would suggest understanding if we do not reply to messages during Lunar New Year.

All East Asian people are hospitable, especially during Lunar New Year. We welcome everyone to attend our events or even visit us. Traditionally, we will spend time with our families from the last day of the last lunar year to the second day of a new lunar year. We will begin visiting our friends on the third day of a new lunar year.

Pei-Chi Chen (she/her/hers)

Pei Chi Chen headshot

Pei-Chi Chen (MBA Supply Chain Management & Business Analytics ’23)

Hometown/Country: Taiwan

Summer Internship: Aptiv

Broad News: Can you explain what Lunar New Year is and what it means to you and your family?

Chen: Lunar New Year is one of the most important holidays in Taiwan. It represents the beginning of the new lunar year. It means a lot to my family because it is a unique time period in which we are able to get together and celebrate Lunar New Year. Meanwhile, we wish our family members in a new year can be healthy, happy and successful.

Broad News: Can you talk about a time where the peace and prosperity themes helped you in your personal or professional life?

Chen: There are 12 animals in the Chinese Zodiac. People have their own represented animals, and it depends on the lunar year in which they were born. Thus, I think these themes helped me to not directly ask people’s age, but if I know their represented animals, I can understand their ages.

Broad News: How can the business community be more inclusive of anyone with an Asian background?

Chen: I suggest that the business community have official events to introduce Asian holidays and encourage people to do research on the holiday backgrounds and meanings.

Sooyong Cha (he/him/his)

Sooyong Cha headshot

Sooyong Cha (MBA Supply Chain Management & Human Resources and Strategic Management ’23)

Hometown/Country: Seoul, Korea

Summer Internship: SC Johnson (Global Supply Chain)

Broad News: Can you explain what Lunar New Year is and what it means to you and your family?

Cha: Lunar New Year is one of the biggest holidays in Korea, with Korean Thanksgiving in the fall. All Korean people wish for good luck and to celebrate with all their family together.

Broad News: Can you talk about a time where the peace and prosperity themes helped you in your personal or professional life?

Cha: Yes, Rabbit, especially Black Rabbit for this year. We used to send emails or small cards in person, depending on the situation. Black Rabbit’s meaning is knowledge and intelligence. I wish all Broad Spartans will find a good way with knowledge and intelligence in this year.

Broad News: How can the business community be more inclusive of anyone with an Asian background?

Cha: Korea has a long (5,000 years) and beautiful history. We like to support each other and want to help one another. Koreans and Asians are not different from others. We are all the same. Please don’t hesitate to ask and try to understand Asian cultures. I and all Asian people always welcome hearing your voices.

Ya Wen “Yvonne” Juang (she/her/hers)

Ya Wen Juang headshot

Ya Wen Juang (MBA Supply Chain Management & Business Analytics ’24)

Hometown/Country: Taipei, Taiwan

Career Before Broad: Engtek Solution Corp. International Sales Representative and Section manager

Broad News: Can you explain what Lunar New Year is and what it means to you and your family?

Juang: Lunar New Year is the biggest festival in Taiwan. This is when family members gather together, just like American families gather at the Christmas and New Year holidays. We like to visit our neighbors, friends and other relatives during the holiday. This action is called Chuàn Mén Zịh. Here are some greetings we like to say when visiting people:

  • 恭喜發財 Gong sǐ fa tsaí: Wishing you prosperity and wealth.
  • 歲歲平安 Sueì sueì píng an: May you have peace at every age.
  • 年年有餘 Nián nián yoǔ yú: Surplus and abundance year after year.

To my family and me, Lunar New Year is a time of remembering tradition and missing our ancestors. The holiday is also all about food! We have our signature dishes that are specifically for Lunar New Year. My favorite is Buddha Jumps Over the Wall (Fó Tiaò Chiáng), which is made from a variety of ingredients such as bamboo shoots, scallops, sea cucumber, abalone, fish maw, chicken, Jinhua ham, pork tendon, ginseng, mushrooms and taro.

Broad News: Can you talk about a time where the peace and prosperity themes helped you in your personal or professional life?

Juang: Living in a peaceful and prosperous environment, I don’t need to worry about the basic physiological and safety needs of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. I can focus on spending valuable time with family, finding a loved one and pursuing higher education or a job title. Having the chance to pursue an MBA degree in a foreign country is built on that foundation. At the same time, I am grateful to have the opportunity to visit different places and even join a study abroad program, enriching my personal life. Furthermore, knowing my hometown is peaceful and prosperous is an emotional support. There is always a space waiting for me on the other side of the world.

Broad News: How can the business community be more inclusive of anyone with an Asian background?

Juang: The business community can be more inclusive and understanding of anyone with an Asian background by taking the following steps:

  1. Educating themselves about the diverse cultures, backgrounds and experiences of Asian individuals. Not all Asians are the same. We grew up in different backgrounds!
  2. Making sure their workplaces are free from discrimination and bias and actively promoting diversity and inclusion. This can be applied to not only Asian but also any culture!
  3. Providing opportunities for Asian individuals to share their perspectives and experiences in the workplace. Make sure they are comfortable while sharing. If they don’t feel comfortable talking about opinions, writing is always a great alternative!
  4. Building relationships and networking opportunities with Asian individuals and organizations. Leaving home and striving for life is not easy for anyone. Having some familiar things in life is helpful!
  5. Recognizing and valuing the unique skills and contributions that Asian individuals bring to the workplace. Encouragement instead of scolding!
  6. Being open-minded, listening and learning from Asian community members and peers. Parts of Asian culture are more introverted, polite and inexpressive. We may not be good at networking, but we are learning. You will be surprised if you initiate a conversation!

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